the grass is greener on the internet

Show and sell: Marketing Week 2010
August 28, 2010, 6:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Design, planning, sales and PR: they’re four very different fields with four different ways of selling themselves.

I decided to sample the whole buffet of disciplines this year and while some are more relevant than others, it’s always interesting to get out of the bubble of whatever it is that you do and see what everyone else is up to.


Any long-term followers would have seen me blog on a few Hulsbosch works – I was very impressed with QANTAS and have blathered on about Woolworths more times than I care to mention.

So I have a lot of respect for his work and I agree wholeheartedly with his belief that in communications you need to look at the brand first and then decide on how you’re going to communicate it, not the other way around. His talk was ‘Define – Design – Desire‘, which is well summed-up by the quote:

“…a well designed product chooses us.”

It was very interesting to see the sketches behind the Woolworths logo (despite his evident obsession with Apple, no basis there) and the commitment to dedicated research and creating holistic solutions demonstrates why Hulsbosch IS one of the powerhouses of Australian design.

He communicates very well in sketches, but as a verbal communicator he’s straight down the line…

His pitch: This is what I think about design. This is why my firm is the best at it. Hey look, here’s some intelligent people and they love me! Yep. And here’s another one. Hire me.

Jury’s still out on whether a sketch which had a person saying ‘WOW’ was subliminal advertising for Woolies.


There were a couple of things I was expecting to hear, but ‘Yoda v Morpheus‘ was NOT one of them.

Translation: Planners can be the mysterious always-right guy that sits back and tells you that you didn’t do it right, but that doesn’t get anything done. Planners need to be getting out there kicking butts and finding the answers.

Key take-home points:

  • the media landscape may be changing, but AIDCA still holds true.
  • strategy needs to get more creative and creatives need to get more strategic
  • planning is about being interesting, not right
  • that involves knowing a lot of things about a lot of things
  • that also means ideas will often take precedence over a ‘strategy’
  • it’s not about make a big idea simple it’s about making a little idea complex
  • to do that you need to collaborate, and that WILL involve being uncomfortable. Deal with it.
  • you just can’t be afraid of failure

There were various case studies from W+K and Droga5, but mostly the talk was about presenting things that are interesting in an interesting way – in other words, walking the talk.

His pitch: Planning’s pretty awesome. TED talks are pretty awesome. Incidentally, here’s some stuff we’ve done which was awesome too. You wish you had this campaign, don’t you? Yeah I know…pretty cool stuff…


I wouldn’t want to owe Ian Elliot money. Because if he applied his tenacity and, shall we say, ‘unofficial research skills’ to debt collection instead of pitching…well, just make sure you pay him back, okay?

The title ‘Stop bitching start pitching‘ is a gripping one, and refers to the habit of making up excuses when you don’t win an account or even make the pitching process.

He’s a formidable force that has no doubt propelled Patts forward as an agency, oh, and did I mention there’s a book? There’s a book. Guess what it’s called.

The particularly interesting thing is that you can learn as much about pitching just by analysing the way he talks, as you can by listening to what he’s actually saying.

Well, here’s what he actually said:

  • 30% of the work goes before the pitch, 40% during and 30% after.
  • You need the client to ‘elect’ you. You need to make sure that this is not actually their decision but yours.
  • A pitch isn’t about the brief, it’s about selling the team, the attitude and the ideas. The brief isn’t a question waiting for an answer, it’s an invitation to start a conversation.
  • The people dynamics are far more important. You need to know everyone in the room, what their KPIs are, what they’ve just heard from everyone else, what kind of people they want to work with.
  • A great pitch doesn’t happen overnight.
  • If there’s an elephant in the room, find it and deal with it FIRST.
  • Passion beats powerpoint.
  • If it feels wrong, it probably is – stop digging, find the problem.
  • The best pitches will have a dramatic but relevant demonstration of their most important point.
  • The pitch doesn’t stop after the meeting – keep talking to them about what they think. It builds your bank of information for next time. If you didn’t win the account, it’s just a longer pitch.
  • Live up to what you say you’ll do and don’t be afraid to offer things for free to build a relationship.

His pitch: Let me entertain you. I’ll spin you a story so good that at the end you’ll be begging me for more, and it’s only when I jokingly pitch my book at the end that you might realise you’ve already been sold.


It’s incredibly hard to sum up a panel discussion, especially when you know that all of the pithy comments were posted live on Twitter by very eager texters.

A great comment on the business case for social media is that ROI is not so much ‘return on investment’ but the ‘risk of ignoring’. There were a lot of questions from the audience about control and what to do when things go wrong – the key being that you DO need to have strategies ready in case this happens.

One question I didn’t ask (which I should have) is what they think of the notion that development of social media is over and we’re now looking at influence within the networks that have been built through the use of game dynamics. (See the TEDx talk by Seth Priebatsch.)

The pitches: Perhaps the best pitch is not to pitch at all. You’re here because you know we’re good. For we are experts. The end.

That’s another Marketing Week over. Possibly the last one I’ll attend in Adelaide, sadly. It’s been a fun ride and a great chance as a student to actually feel like part of the industry and get to talk to some of the movers and shakers about what they’re doing.


1 Comment so far
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nice work Katherine, good week had by all

Comment by Anthony Coles

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